City Creek Nature Notes – Salt Lake City

January 4, 2017

January 4th

Filed under: Geology — canopus56 @ 7:54 pm

The Zen Rock

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3:00 p.m. The zen rock is buried in snow. What I call the “zen rock” is an egg-shaped rock about twelve feet tall that sits in the middle of the stream a hundred feet up canyon of the red bridge near mile 0.9. It is made of Van Horn’s Tertiary Conglomerate No. 2 of the grey-green type. The rock reminds me of tall mountains rendered in Taoist shan shi ink painting of 14th China. The Chinese Buddhist style of landscape painting of that era focuses on humanity’s relationship to nature. The canyon’s zen rock also provides a human meditative focus that draws one into nature because of its shape and position in the stream. Beginning in the spring and throughout the summer it is becomes invisible from the road as foliage returns to trees and the stream understory. At the end of August, as understory plants begin to the thin, the zen rock reappears, and in the Fall it returns being a prominent feature seen during a walk. Then it is surrounded by a thick mat of maple and river birch leaves. In the winter, its top becomes tinged with a layer of snow. These changes make a metaphor for zen. The rock disappears and reappears. Its form alters through the seasons, and its true nature varies. Is it a mountain? Is it a island sticking up from a sea? Or is it just a rock in a stream?

In Thoreau’s “Journal” on January 4th, 1853, he enjoys the beauty of the yellow birch, the analogue of which in this western canyon is the river birch. On January 4th, 1857, he describes his need to seek solitude in nature. On January 4th, 1858, he remarks on yellow colored sunlight reflecting off the snow.

On January 4, 1908, the Salt Lake Tribune reported that a City 30-man work crew had cleared much of City Creek from obstructions and debris from the creek bed that might cause flooding in the City during the spring.

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